Learn how to iron patches on your shirts, jackets, pants, bags, hats, and more! Patches make your fabric-made items look unique, stylish, and personalized. You can also use them to cover up holes, discolorations, stains, and any imperfections. In the past, you need to sew these embellishments on the fabric, but nowadays, you can find iron-on varieties. Meaning, you can attach them to fabric with the help of an iron.
How to Iron Patches - Step-by-Step Guide
Iron-on patches are easy to attach to a fabric, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need to take some precautions and follow the process recommended by most experts. Keep in mind that there are also fabric types wherein iron-on patches won’t attach to, such as waterproof ones, silk, and most of the most delicate fabric types. For other fabrics, like rayon, leather, and nylon, they won’t attach to as well as they would to cotton, denim, and polyester.
How to Sew a Patch
If you have a fabric that can't be ironed, you will need to sew your patch. Learn how to sew a patch.
How to Iron Patches on Most Fabric
When it comes to ironing patches, the primary rule is to make sure the care instruction label on the fabric says you can iron the material. If not, then you’re better off using sew-in patches because you would end up damaging the fabric. Another thing to keep in mind is to check the required iron setting or temperature level for the fabric you’re working on.
For iron-on patches, do note that they will come with instructions that you also need to follow or consider. That said, below is the general process tried and tested by most DIYers and experts.
Ironing a patch to attach it to the fabric would only require you a few items that you already have in your arsenal.
How to Iron Patches - Supplies
- Iron-on patch
- Ironing board
- A piece of clean, white cloth or sheet of paper
How to Iron Patches
Once you have all the items ready and in place, there are eight general steps to follow and master.
How to Iron Patches Steps:
- Identify the Kind of Patch
- Decide Where to Put the Patch
- Prepare Your Iron and Fabric
- Position Your Patch
- Place a Pressing Cloth or Paper
- Iron the Patch
- Remove the Iron and Check the Patch
- Flip, Repeat, and Done!
Step #1: Identify the Kind of Patch
Iron-on patches usually have shiny backing with a special adhesive that gets activated when exposed to heat. You’ll also find ones with plastic backing, and you must tell them apart from ordinary patches. To do so, check the patch’s edges since iron-on varieties have adhesive all throughout.
Besides knowing which patch is iron-on, you must also understand that iron-on patches come in different forms. Some of the most popular ones include:
- Embroidered: Thick, stiff, with plastic-glue-like side (adhesive); best for ripped, stained, and discolored fabric
- Paper: Usually only applicable for white fabric since it’s transparent; one side is glossy, while the other or adhesive side is imprinted with a design
- Fabric Blendable: Blends well with fabric; may require you to place it on the fabric’s reverse side.
Step #2: Decide Where to Put the Patch
If your purpose of ironing a patch is to add personality and design to your fabric instead of covering up imperfections, you need to decide where to put the patch. To have a good picture of how the piece of fabric would look with the patch on, here’s what you need to do:
- Lay the piece of fabric on a flat surface where it can fit perfectly, or hang it.
- If you plan to attach one patch only, find a prominent area where it would stand out. If you plan to use multiple pieces, make sure you have enough room for each patch, and you place them in a not-so organized manner. Arranging them in such a way will make it look stylish and not like wall decor.
Step #3: Prepare Your Iron and Fabric
Turn off the steamer function of your iron and remove any water or liquid in the reservoir. Plug your iron and heat it up to the maximum temperature setting the specific fabric can withstand (as stated in the care instructions), especially if the patch is thick. This is to make sure the patch attaches well to the fabric.
Then, lay your fabric on the ironing board. If there are wrinkles and creases on the specific area where you plan to put the patch, it’s better to iron them out first.
Step #4: Position Your Patch
Position the patch carefully to the area where you want to place it. For transfer patches, the image should be facing the fabric, not upside, as this is the adhesive side of the patch. Make sure you position the patch flat, with no creases and not crooked.
Step #5: Place a Pressing Cloth or Paper
Carefully place a piece of cloth or a sheet of paper on top of the patch, ensuring the patch doesn’t move. The cloth or paper will help protect your patch and fabric from the direct heat coming from the iron.
Step #6: How to Iron Patches
Place your iron over the pressing cloth or paper, taking care not to create any movement so that the patch stays put. Slowly press the iron against the cloth or paper, applying as much pressure as possible, but making sure you don’t move the iron. Hold it from 15 to 20 seconds.
Step #7: Remove the Iron and Check the Patch
Remove the iron and let the cloth or paper and patch cool down. Then, remove the paper or cloth and check if you’ve successfully attached the patch to your fabric. That is the patch’s edges laying completely on your fabric.
If not, get a new piece of clean, white cloth or sheet of paper. Slowly cover the patch and iron as discussed in step #6, remove the iron, and check.
Step #8: Flip, Repeat, and Done!
Although you’ve already successfully attached the iron-on patch, it’s better to flip your fabric and repeat the whole process on the other side.
If you’ve a transfer patch, ensure the patch has cooled down completely, about 10 minutes, before removing or peeling off the paper backing.
That’s it! You’re done! You can iron the whole fabric then either keep it in your closet or storage cabinet or wear or use it immediately.
How to Iron Patches on Leather
Leather materials aren’t iron-friendly since, upon contact with high heat, they get burned. However, you still can iron patches on leather but with greater care than most fabric types. The process is the same as above, but with the following changes or additions.
How to iron patches on leather:
- When preparing the leather (step #3), lay the item on your ironing board and wipe the area where you plan to place the patch with mild liquid detergent and water. Dry it out completely with a clean, dry cloth. Then, place a piece of cloth or towel on top of the area where you would put the patch before ironing it.
- When you flip the leather material (step #8), you also still need to place a pressing cloth or sheet on top of your fabric before pressing the iron to protect the fabric, whether or not it's leather.
How to Iron Patches That Won’t Stick
You might have attached the iron-on patch securely, but after a few washes, expect it to come off. The simple reason is that the adhesive's strength becomes weaker.
Unfortunately, you can no longer re-attach the patch using the method discussed above since the special adhesive will no longer work. Fret not! There’s still a way to re-attach it.
What You'll Need
Apart from the materials above, you also need an iron-on fabric adhesive that you can purchase in any arts and crafts, school supply, and big box stores.
What You Need to Do
Prepare the iron and fabric similar to the "how to iron patches on most fabric" process discussed above. Next, apply just enough glue to the “adhesive” side of the patch. Too much glue would be messy and stain the fabric, while too little glue prevents the patch from sticking to the fabric.
It’s also best to limit the amount of glue you place on the sides. Remember, once you apply pressure or press the iron on the patch, you also flatten the glue, pushing some of them to the sides. Then, just follow steps four to eight as above.
How to Iron Patches - In Conclusion
Undoubtedly, a patch is among the best items discovered in the world of crafting or sewing. Not only does it enhance the look of a fabric-made item but also helps prolong the items’ quality by maintaining their wearability or usability despite their imperfections.
Iron-on patches might not stay in place as long as sew-in patches, but iron-on patches are more convenient and easier to attach to most fabric materials. You won’t even need special skills! Just make sure you don’t skip reading the fabric care label and the iron-on patch instruction when accomplishing the task. After all, doing things with love and care always gives better results.
More Ironing Articles
Now you know how to iron patches, here are some more articles for you to read.